For most of Zach’s school years, he struggled with procrastination and had difficulty being organized. People often told her that she needed to manage her time better or find systems that would help her manage her schedule. But those suggestions did not seem to solve the problem.
So it came as no surprise when he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at the age of 22.
“My go-to has always been, ‘I’m just wired that way, and there’s really nothing I can do about it,'” Zach says.
Symptoms of ADHD usually begin in childhood and continue into adulthood. But sometimes, ADHD isn’t diagnosed until someone is a young adult.
The symptoms in adults may not be as obvious as in children, but they are similar. Young adults with ADHD usually do not show as much hyperactivity as they did when they were children. But they can be restless, have trouble controlling impulses and paying attention.
As he worked toward a bachelor’s degree, Zach would stay up many nights to complete assignments. It’s normal for college students to struggle with time management at first, but Zack noticed that his procrastination was more all-consuming than his peers’. She often had to work with her professors to accommodate deadlines so that she could complete her assignments.
It wasn’t until other people in his life learned he had ADHD that he considered the possibility for himself.
Like Zach, some young adults may begin to wonder about ADHD when they notice that they have trouble with daily tasks. Or maybe your family, professors, or friends notice patterns in your behavior that you find inconsistent or forgetful. Warning signs include:
- trouble concentrating
- problems controlling impulses
- trouble with priorities
- lack of organization
- poor time management
- trouble multitasking
- plan for trouble
- problems completing tasks
- stress handling issues
These symptoms can cause problems with your job, school or social life. Young adults with ADHD may have difficulty meeting deadlines, arriving at meetings or events on time, or controlling their emotional outbursts.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will most likely do a series of tests. They’ll give you a physical exam to rule out other conditions, ask about your medical history and other conditions you may have, and do psychological testing and use an ADHD rating scale to get an in-depth look at your symptoms.
There are three main types of ADHD, and testing may depend on your symptoms. Types are:
- Hyperactive-impulsive. This is the least common form of ADHD. This causes you to act on impulse and have restless tendencies.
- careless. This type involves issues with your ability to pay attention.
- Joint. This is the most common type and shows symptoms of both the other forms.
Sometimes, a person who does not have one of the first two types will go years without a diagnosis. Because they only have one type of symptom, their doctor may not recognize their ADHD at first.
People with ADHD can also be what doctors call “high functioning,” which means they are able to live life without major problems. They may not be aware that they have ADHD and may have developed coping skills to hide their symptoms.
Zach is now a graduate student at Rockefeller University in New York. He says that high functioning led him through his primary education and most of college. “Sometimes it can be easy not to see people who are high functioning,” he says.
No matter the type of ADHD, symptoms can pose challenges for young adults. “From the time you start college to getting your first job, renting your first apartment, buying your first home—a lot of that adult stuff requires executive functioning skills,” Zack says. These skills – such as adaptive thinking, planning, self-control, self-monitoring, time management, memory and organization – are key to development. But many people with ADHD struggle with them.
Without treatment, ADHD can cause a lot of trouble for young adults. This can make you more likely to have money problems, get into trouble with the law, have trouble keeping a job, have substance or alcohol use problems, be involved in car accidents, deal with relationship troubles, have an unplanned pregnancy, get an STD Is. or have poor self-image and other mental health problems.
David W. Goodman, MD, director of the University of Maryland’s Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center, says that ADHD treatment is especially important for young people. “When you live with it your whole life, you start thinking ‘It’s just me. … It’s just the way I am,'” he says. “When, in fact, it’s not That who you are, that you have a disorder. It is a manifestation of disorder.
He finds that treatment helps young adults separate themselves from their situation. With the right help, says Goodman, “they realize they have enormous potential to do more.” “That’s when their confidence goes up.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor will offer resources where you can learn about your condition. Goodman suggests that it’s best for people to read up on ADHD before starting treatment so they understand what it is, how it affects the chemicals in their brain and how treatment can help them live a better life. . Many experts recommend starting with an organization such as Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).
Your doctor will also talk to you about medications to treat your ADHD. You can try a stimulant such as methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin) or an amphetamine (Adderall, Vyvanse) to balance the chemicals in your brain. Or you can use non-stimulant drugs like antidepressants if you can’t take stimulants because of side effects or other conditions.
Keep in mind that you will most likely need to work with your doctor to find the drug and dosage that work for you. This may take some time.
Once your symptoms have improved with medication, Goodman often suggests therapy to work on organizational skills, interpersonal skills, and time management.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common type of psychotherapy for people with ADHD. It can help you learn how to manage your behavior and control your thought patterns.
You might also consider marriage counseling or family therapy to help you and your loved ones understand ADHD. These sessions can improve communication in your home and teach you to approach challenges more positively.
Medication and therapy aren’t the only ways to improve your ADHD symptoms. Carly Duryea, 23, learned she had inattentive/distractive ADHD the first time she was in high school. She shares these strategies that help her stay on top of her schedule:
- getting it in writing. Duryea calls himself a “list-maker”. She uses written reminders and lists to help her keep track of her day. This can include grocery lists, event planning, or simple to-do checklists.
- visual reminder. Putting more objects around the house in their proper places helps Duryea to sharpen her memory when she needs it. She finds visual cues more helpful than trying to remember various tasks during the day.
- clean environment. An organized workspace allows for a streamlined focus to get work done on time.
- Preparation. When Durria goes out of town or on a day trip, she packs things like extra pain medicine, towels in case it rains, drinks, snacks, and anything else she thinks someone might need. Are. She says it may sound somewhat excessive, but it’s one of the best ways to combat symptoms like forgetfulness.
- Accountability. Durriya asks her loved ones to keep her under control. “I do so much better under accountability,” she says. “My boyfriend can hold me accountable for certain things… whether it’s something small and unimportant or if it’s something more important like school or deadlines.”